The Bookseller is reporting that Pat Kavanagh, the British agent and wife of novelist Julian Barnes, has died.
Kavanagh represented some heavy hitters in the literary world, including Joanna Trollope, John Irving, and William Trevor (not to mention her husband), but she was perhaps equally well known for the scandals that seemed to follow her throughout the upper echelons of the British writing and publishing community. In 1995, she was dropped by her most famous client, Martin Amis, in favour of Andrew Wylie, nicknamed “The Jackal,” who managed to secure the author a £500,000 advance for his novel The Information. The split with Kavanagh caused a very public falling out between Amis and Barnes, who had previously been close friends and snooker buddies.
Then last year, Kavanagh caused a stir once again by resigning from the British agency Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, and inciting a raft of other agents to follow her. Kavanagh’s departure and its attendent fallout caused the editorial director of one British publishing house to confess to the London Times that the sedate and sophisticated bonhomie of London’s literati is largely a faÃ§ade: On the surface we all get on brilliantly, but on a personal level we all f***ing loathe each other.
The notice in The Bookseller is very brief, and gives no indication of the cause of death. The only direct quote in the piece is from a spokesperson for United Agents, the firm that Kavanagh helped establish after leaving PFD:
“Pat Kavanagh was an exceptional agent and a great friend. We all owe her a tremendous amount. She was an extraordinary presence who was much loved and will be greatly missed by her colleagues and her clients. All our thoughts are with Julian at this difficult time.”